Raspberry Pi gets official IQAudio audio boards, improved industrial support

The Raspberry Pi was envisioned as an inexpensive, yet highly-features platform to teach programming to young kids, but as soon as the board was released in 2012 things quickly got out of control and many people started to use the low-cost SBC in various projects, or just as an XBMC (now Kodi) media center.

Over 8 years later, that means 44 percent of Raspberry Pi boards were sold to the industrial/commercial market as opposed to individuals or the education market. Two recent announcements from the Raspberry Pi Foundation / Raspberry Pi Trading highlight the willingness of the organizations to expand the use of their boards to more markets: IQaudio audio boards and a new section of the website specific to industrial support.

IQaudio audio boards for Raspberry Pi

If you’ve already heard about IQaudio, that’s because the audio boards are not new. They were developed by a company called IQaudio funded in 2015 by Gordon and Sharon Garrity, as well as Andrew Rankin.

What’s new is that four of the boards have now become official Raspberry Pi products and as a result will be available at much cheaper prices and benefit from a wider distribution network.

Raspberry Pi IQAudio DAC HAT
IQAudio DAC+ (left) and DAC Pro (right)

The first two boards we’re focusing on look very much alike but IQAudio DAC+ and DAC Pro rely on different DACs:

  • Audio DAC
    • DAC+ – Texas Instruments PCM5122 DAC with 384 kHz max sampling rate, 112 dB SNR
    • DAC Pro – Texas Instruments PCM5242 DAC with basically the same features, but a higher 114 dB signal-to-noise ratio.
  • Support for 24‑bit 192kHz high-resolution digital audio
  • Audio I/F
    • 3.5mm audio output jack
    • Stereo RCA sockets
    • DAC Pro only – Unpopulated 7-pin header for XLR L/R outputs
  • Host interface – 40-pin Raspberry Pi header
  • Misc – Power LED, EEPROM for HAT compatibility
Raspberry Pi IQAudio DigiAMP+ and Codec Zero
DigiAMP+ and Codec Zero

The next two boards have different use cases. IQAudio DigiAMP+ HAT is an amplifier board based on Texas Instruments TAS5756M digital-input amplifier allowing you to drive a pair of passive speakers at up to 35W per channel. It requires a separate  12-21V 3A DC power supply such as XP Power’s VEC65US19. I’d assume many laptop power adapters would do the job.

As its form factor and name imply, IQAudio Codec Zero HAT is designed specifically for Raspberry Pi Zero boards. It is equipped with Dialog Semiconductor DA7212 codec, a built-in MEMS microphone, a 3.5mm jack for an external microphone, and a 2-pin terminal block to connect a 1.2W, 8 Ohm mono speaker. There are also two unpopulated 4-pin headers for AUX input and output.

You’ll find details information in the 25-page long “product brief“. The first three HAT boards are available now for respectively $20, $25, and $30 through official distributors, while Raspberry Pi IQAudio Codec Zero will start selling next year for $20.

Raspberry Pi “For Industry” website section

Raspberry Pi Industrial Support website

In order to better support their industrial customers, a new For industry section has launched on the Raspberry Pi website where companies using the boards and modules will be able to access datasheets, compliance documents, and more.

The Raspberry Pi team has also committed to guaranteeing product lifetimes until at least 2026 on all products including the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+ that is still used by some industrial consumers.

New initiatives have also been launched to help commercial products get to markets. There’s notably a Raspberry Pi Integrator Programme to help with necessary regulatory compliance steps, as well as a Raspberry Pi Approved Design Partners program comprised of trusted design consultancies with experience in software, hardware, and/or mechanical design services related to Raspberry Pi SBCs and modules. If your company does have that experience, you could also apply to become an approved design partner and get promoted on the Raspberry Pi website. More details can be found in the announcement.

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